Location, Location, Location: Finding the “Perfect” Place to Take Pictures

This week’s Thursday Thoughts will explore “perfect” locations for photo sessions.

Let me begin by saying that portrait journalism is more about people than places. That said, location can add drama, interest, inspiration, and even insight into the subject. The “perfect” location can help make an image come alive.

Here are some things I’ve learned about discovering portrait locations:

It’s “them.” When my clients and I are deciding on locations, we talk a lot about how they see themselves. Are they quirky, formal, whimsical, artistic, fun-loving, urban, nature-loving, simple…?  Are there limitations that will affect location selection–such as small children who will not do well moving from spot to spot or elderly people who need to avoid a lot of steps and uneven terrain?

Think out of the box. Don’t be afraid to try a location that doesn’t seem traditional. I love being surprised by great spots. Sometimes circumstances have forced me to choose a second choice location, but I’ve never been disappointed. Use unorthodox locations to help you focus on the people you’re photographing. (One of my favorites is behind my neighborhood Food Lion…really.)

One size does NOT fit all. Every location is not perfect for every person or family I photograph. Some of my clients love the beach; others hate it. Some prefer the urban feel of a downtown setting, while others love nature trails and walking paths. A great location is only great if the people being photographed think it is.

As I think about some of the unique places I’ve done photo sessions, it makes me smile. Creativity really is limitless when we’re looking for inspiration in unexpected places.

I’ve posted a few of my favorite unexpected “perfect” location images below. I think you’ll find that these “perfect” locations have helped bring out something special in the people I’ve photographed.

This couple rode bikes a lot while they were dating. This image was taken on their wedding day in front of the bride’s house. It was the perfect location for this fun, romantic shot!
Yes, this bride climbed to the top of a large rock formation on the beach for her bridal portraits!
Behind the grocery store near my house–one of my favorite spots. No kidding. =)
Antique store in Richmond. This fun couple loves the T.V. show Psych. In honor of this shared interest and the first gift the groom gave the bride, we hid a pineapple in several engagement images. Can you find it in this one?
I’ve always wanted to cram a family into this phone booth, and THIS was the perfect family.
Laundry mat–love it!
Ice cream shoppe established in the early 1900’s.
This senior wants to be a mechanic and loves cars. To the garage we went!
A Ferris wheel!
A full drum kit in a parking garage!
A little spot by the side of the road, barely enough room to park, but the mist over the water was irresistible. This was one of those, “Quick, pull over here!” moments.
Guess what sport he did in high school!
Laura and I stopped by an old, run-down horse farm. The owner was very kind to allow us to use his falling down, white wall. While we were there, he came out with the little chick that Laura is holding. What a great, and unexpected addition, to what we had planned!

Have fun finding your perfect places for pictures!

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